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Hulkenberg to join Sauber F1 in 2013

updated 12:52 PM EDT, Wed October 31, 2012
German driver Nico Hulkenberg made his Formula One debut at the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix.
German driver Nico Hulkenberg made his Formula One debut at the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Nico Hulkenberg agrees to join Sauber for 2013 Formula One season
  • The German will replace Sergio Perez, who is joining McLaren
  • McLaren will lose 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton to Mercedes next year
  • Force India and Sauber yet to finalize their line-ups for next season

(CNN) -- Nico Hulkenberg will drive for Sauber next season as a replacement for the departing Sergio Perez, the Formula One team announced Wednesday.

Mexico's Perez has already signed a deal with McLaren following 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton's decision to join Mercedes.

The recruitment of Hulkenberg from Force India marks the first significant piece of business done by the Swiss marque since Monisha Kaltenborn was appointed as F1's first female team principal earlier this month.

Hulkenberg is 12th in this season's drivers' standings with 49 points from 17 races ahead of this weekend's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

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"I'm really looking forward to working with the Sauber F1 Team," said the 25-year-old, who made his debut on the grid with Williams in 2010.

"It's a well-placed team and very competitive. Plus it's a team in which young drivers have repeatedly delivered exceptional performances. I would like to take up that baton."

Despite his promising rookie season, which was capped by a surprise pole position at the Brazilian Grand Prix, Hulkenberg lost his seat at Williams and spent 2011 as a test driver with Force India.

Kaltenborn admitted his performance at Interlagos had been a factor in signing the German, who had interested the team for a number of years.

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"We've been observing Nico for some time now and his performances have been very persuasive," she said. "That was the case in GP2 and has continued into Formula One.

"An obvious highlight was how he scored pole at Interlagos in 2010 despite the most challenging external conditions. He clearly showed that he can seize the chance if it arises.

"But high spots like that are one thing; systematic teamwork is another -- and on that score I have confidence in Nico too. I'm sure he will fit in very well with the Sauber F1 Team. We look forward to working together with him."

Sauber has enjoyed a solid 2012 campaign, sitting sixth in the constructors' standings one place above Force India with three races to go.

Hulkenberg's teammate next year has yet to be decided, with Sauber expected to release Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi, while Force India have yet to announce who will line up alongside Paul di Resta.

Force India team principal Vijay Mallya expressed his gratitude for the work Hulkenberg has done at the UK-based marque.

"It has been a pleasure to have Nico with us for the last couple of years," he said.

"At the end of 2010 we identified him as a star of the future and it has been rewarding to watch him develop his racing skills.

"Together with Paul he has done a brilliant job for us, helping the team score more points than ever before and giving 100% commitment every weekend."

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